‘Lingua Franca’ director Isabel Sandoval to helm ‘Tropical Gothic’ drama set in 16th century Philippines

It is possibly inspired by a Nick Joaquin story

New details have emerged of the next two projects by Filipino director Isabel Sandoval, known for directing and starring in Lingua Franca.

According to Variety, Sandoval has signed to Creative Arts Agency, and is directing a one-hour FX drama titled Vespertine. Her second project for CAA will be a feature titled Tropical Gothic, a drama set in 16th century colonial Philippines “with themes in the vein of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo and Jane Campion’s The Piano“.

Tropical Gothic is also the title of one of Filipino author Nick Joaquin’s stories. While Sandoval hasn’t confirmed that the feature will be an adaptation, she said in a Passerbuys interview in October that her next feature will be “inspired by the sensibility of Joaquin.”


Since the news of her signing to CAA broke, Sandoval has shared a teaser poster for Tropical Gothic on Twitter. See it below:

In 2019, Sandoval’s film Lingua Franca premiered at the Venice Film Festival. It’s about an undocumented Filipino trans woman living in Brooklyn, New York who works as a caregiver to an elderly Russian woman.

Sandoval became the first trans woman of color to direct and star in a film selected in the competition. The film was later acquired by director Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY and is now streaming on Netflix, except in the Philippines.

See the trailer below.


Last year, Sandoval won Best Actress at the 18th Pacific Meridian International Film Festival in Russia for her role. Lingua Franca also won the Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2020 Bentonville Film Festival, a festival in the US that highlights stories from women, the LGBTQ+ community and people with disabilities in the entertainment industry.